No restaurants in Madrid have been awarded three Michelin stars, so restaurants with two Michelin stars are as good as it gets in the city. I made the two-starred Ramon Frexia the ‘food’ focus of my family’s brief visit to Madrid because it seemed to be the perfect fit for our rather not-fine-dining-friendly situation. It was located in a hotel; this meant that – if we stayed at the hotel (and we did) – the kids would be dining in a familiar environment and that we could immediately return to our room if we needed to. The restaurant did not forbid kids under a certain age from dining at the restaurant; We have been rejected by more than our share of Michelin-starred restaurant because of my son’s young age. The restaurant seemed to serve innovative dishes that are at the same time rooted in tradition; rather than generic haute cuisine, I wanted to experience the cutting-edge flavours, textures, and techniques of modern Spanish cooking.
Before going into the details of the dishes of my family’s degustation at Ramon Frexia, I would like to offer some thoughts on our meal at the restaurant as well as some thoughts on the state of so-called haute cuisine. First of all – before I make any other comments – I would like to make the statement that my wife, daughter, son, and I enjoyed the food we had at Ramon Frexia. We thought that it was worth both the money we paid for the meal and the more than three hours that we spent on the meal. Did we love the meal? No. Did we think that the restaurant served us the best meal on our trip to Spain? No. Were we wowed by the dishes we were served? Once again, No. Like my feelings about my family’s visit to Cinc Sentits in Barcelona, I once again got the feeling that I’ve ‘been there and done that’. The flavours of the dishes were certainly more-than-agreeable; the ingredients were as fresh as they got; the techniques were almost-flawless; the presentation was tasteful; the service was impeccable. But the dining experience as a whole was predictable and the food was barely distinguishable from the food served at almost every other critically-acclaimed restaurant that I’ve visited on other continents. The food was neither challenging nor thought-provoking nor heavenly nor soulful.
Please understand that I am not criticizing the kitchen staff, the wait staff, or the chef. I could totally feel their dedication to their craft with the food and service that I received. My criticism is for the state of haute cuisine in general. I think that it has become stagnant. I think that fine dining establishments, no matter where in the world they happen to be located, have become so concerned with obtaining and retaining trophies such as Michelin stars that everything has become formulaic. Unfortunately, formulaic becomes boring and boring results in a lack of innovative imaginativeness.
Again, I have to remind you that the food at Ramon Frexia was plenty tasty. I’ll show you the pictures first and offer you my (negtive-skewing) thoughts on the dishes a few days later.
to be continued…